Mr. Wolf’s Class, the new graphic novel by Aron Nels Steinke, is a colorful and well-drawn book aimed at elementary aged students. As the book opens, Mr. Wolf enters a new classroom at Hazelwood Elementary school set to start his tenure as a 4th-grade teacher. The wordless cells show Mr. Wolf cleaning, scrubbing, and turning a messy space into an ideal classroom. He is hopeful that his first day of school will go well.
At the same time, we see that various characters who will populate his classroom. Margot is a new student who is transferring into Hazelwood after a move, Sampson who is interested in making friends, and Penny who is sleepy because she has a new baby brother.
The episodic nature of the text, broken into small chapters that go through various sections of the school day, works for this text. Some of the short storylines are more compelling than others, but overall they hang together well. The characters here aren’t as fleshed out as some other texts of this Lexile and genre, and it does take some time to get to know and warm up to them. The result is a lack of character building upfront that might not be engaging enough for some kids. My little one was not compelled enough to sit through this in a single reading, but did reach for it again, and was excited to finish it.
The images here are well drawn and the bold colors make this a nice book to look at. The simple lines and full colors are akin to television driven cartoons. The end of the text is much stronger than the opening, a few images in the last third stand out as exceptional. The gags and story arch is a bit predictable even for kids literature, but the final few episodes are more touching than those up front.
Overall, this is a solid book and a good start to what is positioned to be a series. The Portland inspired theme is enjoyable, and young people who are moving or have moved schools in the late elementary school grades will connect to Margot’s story.
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